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According to Consumer Reports, more than 90% of new vehicles have adaptive cruise control. Unlike previous versions of cruise control, adaptive cruise control helps vehicles not only maintain a steady speed, but also a safe following distance behind other vehicles and not exceed the speed limit as it changes.
Whether you drive a vehicle with adaptive cruise control or an older vehicle with standard cruise control, you may enjoy using the feature, especially on long drives or during your daily commute. Using cruise control can make your drive easier, but it also comes with a few drawbacks that all drivers should be aware of.
Here are a few pros and cons to keep in mind the next time you think about using your vehicle’s cruise control function.
Both standard and adaptive cruise control can help your vehicle consume less fuel on a trip. That’s because your vehicle is better at maintaining a steady speed than you are, which makes it use gas more efficiently. Adaptive cruise control is even more efficient than standard cruise control, as it can reduce the need for braking and accelerating in response to the behaviors of drivers in front of you.
And while the savings may not be much per trip, they can quickly add up over time. They can also make a difference in your total fuel bill when you’re on long trips, especially on flat, straight highways and interstates with relatively little traffic.
Driving is a mentally taxing task. It requires staying focused on the road and the movements of other vehicles. That means accelerating and braking at appropriate times and distances, being aware of your vehicle’s size and power, and keeping its movement steady.
When you use cruise control, you are no longer giving your full mental and physical attention to the task of driving. When driving on straight stretches of road with cruise control activated, you may not even need to steer constantly. That can increase your risk of daydreaming, becoming distracted, or suffering from “highway hypnosis”—all of which can make it more difficult to react immediately in the event of a potential crash situation, such as an animal darting into the road, encountering road debris, or another driver behaving erratically.
You’ve probably heard jokes about drivers “having a lead foot,” but accidentally speeding is a common traffic law violation. To maintain your speed, you need to keep your foot on the gas pedal. If you’re not paying close attention to your speedometer, it’s easy to exceed the speed limit by 5, 10, or even 15 MPH and not realize it.
When you use cruise control, there’s less chance you’ll exceed the speed limit, especially if it’s consistent for a long stretch. That’s because cruise control maintains the speed you set until you turn it off. Adaptive cruise control is even more effective, as it will automatically reduce your speed in response to speed limit changes.
Cruise control should only be used when visibility is good and when the roads are dry and clear. That’s because drivers still need to be aware of what’s going on around them and because cruise control is less effective at maintaining a steady speed on slick asphalt, like happens when it rains.
Even adaptive cruise control may struggle to perform safely and efficiently at night or during bad weather. When any type of cruise control is activated, your vehicle may not properly adapt to increased braking distances during rainstorms or winter weather. That means that if you rely on it to slow down or maintain a safe speed, it may brake too late or accelerate too early, causing a crash.
Today’s vehicles are smarter and safer than ever. But most vehicles still need to be driven by actual drivers, and those drivers are responsible when their vehicles are involved in accidents. That means drivers should use technology only when appropriate and safe to do so, and continue to stay focused on the road at all times—even when cruise control is activated.
When drivers are overly reliant on technology and fail to uphold their duties to themselves and other drivers, serious crashes can occur. And when they do, our Ohio car accident lawyers are here to help. Contact Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy today if you or someone you love was hurt in a crash that wasn’t your fault. We want to help you get maximum compensation.
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